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Michigan State just misses out on a shot at history

Michigan State won the Rose Bowl. We know this. Mark Dantonio's Spartans rammed, battered, bullied, bruised and stonewalled their way to an 11-1 regular season, an upset of Ohio State for a spotless Big Ten record and a triumph over Stanford on New Year's Day, giving them their best season in a quarter-century and a No. 3 national ranking. 

But it's what the Spartans almost did that is the focus of this piece.

Sunday's 60-54 loss to Connecticut in the East Regional final cost Michigan State not only their basketball season, but a chance to join a group of eight schools to reach a BCS game and the Final Four in the same academic year. With the BCS now extinct, the club is closed at seven:

1998-99 Ohio State - won the Sugar Bowl, lost in the Final Four
1999-00 Wisconsin - won the Rose Bowl, lost in the Final Four
2001-02 Maryland - lost the Orange Bowl, won the National Championship
2006-07 Florida - won the National Championship, won the National Championship
2007-08 Kansas - won the Orange Bowl, won the National Championship
2010-11 Connecticut - lost the Fiesta Bowl, won the National Championship
2012-13 Louisville - won the Sugar Bowl, won the National Championship

Had Tom Izzo's club captured a national championship of its own, Michigan State's 2013-14 football/basketball combination would have cemented itself as the second-best year in the BCS era, trailing only the dual championships won by Florida in 2006-07.

With the 10-team BCS now closed for business and replaced by the four-team College Football Playoff, the bar is now raised for any gridiron-hardwood high achievers. 

The good news here for those in East Lansing, though, is that I can't imagine a better candidate to break that mold than Michigan State. 

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